Previous Section  < Day Day Up >  Next Section

10.4 Operating System Security

Even the most well thought out and secure grant tables will do you little good if any random cracker can get root access to your server. With unlimited access, someone could simply copy all your data files to another machine running MySQL.[5] Doing so would effectively give the cracker an identical copy of your database.

[5] Remember: MyISAM data files are portable across operating systems and CPU architectures.

Data theft isn't the only threat to guard against. A creative cracker may decide that it's more fun to make subtle changes to your data over the course of weeks or even months. Depending on how long you keep backups around and when the data corruption is noticed, such an attack could be quite devastating.

10.4.1 Guidelines

The general guidelines discussed here aren't a comprehensive guide to system security. If you are serious about securityŚand you should beŚwe recommend a copy of O'Reilly's Practical Unix and Internet Security by Simson Garfinkel, Gene Spafford, and Alan Schwartz. That said, here are some ideas for maintaining good security on your database servers:

Don't run MySQL from a privileged account

The root user on Unix and the system (Administrator) user on Windows possess ultimate control over the system. If a security bug is discovered in MySQL, and you're running it as a privileged user, a hacker can gain extensive access to your server. The installation instructions are quite clear about this, but it bears repeating. Create a separate account, usually mysql, for the purpose of running MySQL.

Keep your operating system up to date

All operating system vendors (Microsoft, Sun, RedHat, SUSE, etc.) provide notifications when a security-related update is available. Find your vendor's mailing list and subscribe to it. Pay special attention to the security list for MySQL itself, obviously, as well as anything that may interact directly with the database, such as PHP or Perl.

Restrict logins on the database host

Does every developer building a MySQL-based application need an account on the server? Certainly not; only system and database administrators need accounts on the machine. All the developers need to be able to do is issue queries against the database remotely using TCP/IP.

Have your server audited

Many larger organizations have internal auditors who can assess the security of a server and make recommendations for improving it. If you aren't lucky enough to have access to auditors, you can hire a security consultant to perform the audit.

Backups are important here as well. If your server is broken into, you'll need to reinstall the operating system from an untainted source. Once that's done, you'll be faced with the task of having to restore all the data. If you have the luxury of time, you might compare the hacked server to a known good backup in an effort to determine how the hacker was able to get in. Chapter 9 is devoted to backup and recovery issues.

    Previous Section  < Day Day Up >  Next Section